The construction sector, as one of the biggest employers, provides jobs for almost than ten percent of the employed population. Combined with the production of building materials, the construction sector contributes approximately seven percent to Estonia’s GDP.
In the construction sector, it is important to constantly contribute to its stable development and also use state support and commissions to boost the sector during difficult times.
Compared to the other European Union member states, the Estonian construction sector could be described as competitive; however, despite the growth achieved over the last couple of years, productivity has more growth potential, with the introduction of information technology in all the stages of a life span of a building construction representing the strongest impetus.
According to the statistical information, the calculated area of dwelling per capita grows every year; however, the growth is not strong enough to catch up with the old Nordic countries. Although many new residential houses have been built over the last decade, the increase in housing did not exceed the calculated depreciation of dwelling area even during the building boom.
The construction and housing sector of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications focuses on the following fields:
In Estonia, certain quality requirements are established for buildings, and safety inspection is conducted to ensure compliance with these requirements. All buildings are registered in the state construction register.
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Housing involves the shaping of national housing policies and development of dwelling development programmes, including the planned availability and quality of housing.
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Energy performance of buildings
As approximately 33% of the energy utilised in Estonia is used for houses, the plans include investment of more than 100 million euros on enhancing the energy performance of housing over the next seven years.
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Objectives of construction and housing sector
A suitable legislative, economic and safe environment that fosters the development of the Estonian construction and housing sector will be ensured by efficient legislative drafting, standardisation and support programmes.
The European Union has adopted energy performance directives 2010/31/EU, 2012/27/EU and 2009/28/EU and the Energy performance Programme of the European Commission 2011/ COM(2011) 109 to achieve these objectives. The requirements of the directives have been or will be soon transposed into national legislation.
The energy requirements of buildings represent a large part of Estonia’s energy balance and decreasing the energy consumption of buildings is one of the most effective measures to decrease energy end consumption volumes.
To achieve the objectives established for 2020, an energy saving of 3.5 PJ/annum should be achieved in buildings by 2016. The main part of this saving should come from the reconstruction of buildings. Changes in building legislation will mostly affect new and reconstructed buildings.
Energy performance directives
Directive on the energy performance of buildings
The Directive on the energy performance of buildings 2010/31/EU serves to harmonise the energy performance regulations of buildings in the European Union and requires the member states to impose increasingly strict requirements regarding the energy consumption of buildings.
The goal of the Directive is to contribute to the improved efficiency of the energy consumption of buildings, by granting simplified access to information on energy consumption of buildings and possible energy saving measures to users of buildings and implementing principles that match the conditions in Estonia for shaping the components that determine energy consumption when designing new buildings.
When speaking of economic impacts, this is the most influential regulation in the construction and housing sector; the transposition of the requirements and observing the time schedule will have an immediate effect on the operation of the construction market in general, including buildings’ turnover.
Based on the Directive, a requirement for the building or a part of the building to have an energy performance certificate upon transfer or leased for money was established, and minimum state-level energy performance requirements were adopted, including the definitions of nearly zero-energy building and low-energy building. From 1 January 2019, all the new public sector buildings and those reconstructed to a material extent and from 1 January 2021, all the new and reconstructed buildings to a material extent must meet the requirements established for a nearly zero-energy building.
The energy efficiency directive
The energy efficiency directive 2012/27/EU serves to harmonise the approach to the energy performance of buildings and establishes the objective of achieving a 20% improvement in energy performance by 2020. If no considerable steps are taken in this field over the coming years, the European Union will only achieve a half of the established goal.
This will threaten competitiveness, the efforts to cut down CO2 emissions and will also translate into additional expenses for every consumer. The measures listed in the Directive are intended to speed up the efforts of the Members States in improving energy performance in the full energy chain in general, starting from energy transformation and distribution, to the end-use of energy. The public sector will be required to renovate, each year, three percent of the total area of buildings owned by central government in order to improve their energy performance.
Energy marketers and retail sellers are also required to save 1.5% of the energy they sell on an annual basis, by co-operating with final customers to achieve this goal. As an alternative, the member states may achieve the same goal by adopting methods that will not create immediate obligations for energy utilities – for example, funding programmes or voluntary agreements.
For final customers, the most important is the provision that requires member states to ensure that final customers are provided with individual meters or allocators, whichever is economically more cost effective, that accurately reflect their actual consumption of electricity, natural gas, district heating or cooling and networks.
The headline objective of the Directive is the reduction of energy consumption, the energy performance of buildings being the main component. Depending on the scope for the implementation of different measures, it has been estimated that energy consumption and the volumes of emitted carbon dioxide will be reduced. Most definitely, the emission of other pollutants will also be reduced as a result of the adoption of energy saving measures in buildings.
Directive on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources
The directive on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources 2009/28 EC lays down specific goals with respect to the use of energy from renewable sources; based on these objectives, Estonia will be required to increase the proportion of renewable sources of energy among total energy consumption (compared to 2005, the year of reference) to 25 per cent by 2020, while the share of bio fuels used in transport sector should be increased to 10 percent by 2020.
The use of renewable energy must also be promoted through the introduction of installations using renewable sources of energy in buildings. According to the Directive, heat or cooling delivered to a building by the means of district heating and district cooling from renewable sources of energy, may be taken into consideration for that purpose.
According to the Planning Act of the Republic of Estonia, local governments have complete freedom to plan and devise industrial and residential areas. Local governments must abide by the provisions of county or national level plans for the purposes of planning. Information dissemination activities for all the participants of the planning process, above all, project designers and architects, have been devised to comply with the requirements of the Directive and to allow them consider introducing optimum combinations of renewable sources of energy, high efficiency technologies and district heating and cooling for the reorganisation, designing, planning, construction and renovation of industrial and residential areas.
Construction and housing sector maintenance
According to the law, every owner of registered immovable must ensure good maintenance of the property that he/she owns.
However, as every owner of a registered immovable may not be able to carry out all the required works, a specialist will be needed to provide the services that are needed to ensure real estate maintenance and its compliance with requirements.
All the duties of any owner are listed in real estate maintenance standard, EVS 807:2010.
Most of the maintenance contracts can be concluded in accordance with the Guidelines, General Terms and Conditions of Contracts or General Terms and Conditions, which consist of two parts: the universal general terms and conditions and specifying special terms and conditions. In addition, instructions for the use of terms and conditions of contracts may be drawn up and attached.